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Keywords:

  • Anolis lizard;
  • disruptive selection;
  • island;
  • performance;
  • selection gradient

A central theme underlying studies of adaptive radiation is that ecologically mediated selection drives diversification. However, demonstrating the ecological basis of natural selection and linking this process to patterns of morphological diversity represents a formidable challenge. This is because selection experiments that test correlations between an organism's phenotype and its ecology are difficult to perform in the wild. Previous studies of Anolis lizards have shown that divergent morphologies are correlated with habitat use and have evolved repeatedly on islands throughout the Greater Antilles. Here, we show that the forms of selection acting within a species support an ecological mechanism for diversification. In natural populations, performance-related traits such as limb length are subject to correlational and disruptive selection driven by differences in habitat use. Experimental manipulations in the wild verify the same pattern of selection and indicate that both the targets and forms of selection are consistent through time. Elsewhere, we have demonstrated that these traits are heritable and should therefore evolve in response to selection. Our results provide evidence for the short-term repeatability of selection and its potency in the diversification of anoles.